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Rachel Lewis-Davies: Over the wall farming on a visit to the Peak District

I write this month’s article from the pretty Derbyshire village of Ashford-on-the-Water in the Peak District, which we are visiting for couple of days to celebrate Bob’s BIG FIVE-O.

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The fact he has even agreed to come away is a sign he is getting older I think! Having not visited this part of the world before, we have been struck by the stunning views and lovely villages. The open countryside and minor roads mean the area lends itself to the ‘over the hedge or wall’ farming and it is clear and good to see the landscape has been shaped and is maintained by a strong farming industry.


During a visit to Chatsworth, and with delusions of grandeur, I note the similarities with my own humble abode. I too enjoy a fabulous outlook of the surrounding countryside, am able to boast a specimen of the rare Weeping Ash in the grounds and note people have also taken ‘trailing’ around my house in their outdoor footwear – I only wish I could charge for the privilege like the Duke and Duchess.


There is plenty of grass up here just as ours seems to have disappeared over the last couple of weeks, having to buy-in fodder for the cattle. Probably a case of ‘too many mouths’, we have observed a notable difference this spring in the performance of the new leys and also the limed ground, highlighting the need to keep progressing the improvements apace, or at least as soon as we can afford to do them.

Work placement

Our daughter Ceri, on work placement on a dairy unit in Pendine, Carmarthenshire, since February, comes home this week returning to Gelli Aur to complete year one of the agriculture course.


Her three-month experience has been thoroughly enjoyed, and has had a transformational effect with plans to purchase some Holstein bull calves to rear over the summer. This will involve a bit of re-jigging at home and we now plan to grow some kale so we can outwinter the Welsh Black heifers to free up the shed space.


All in all, it is wonderful to see Ceri so enterprising and sincere, thanks must go to the Evans family and their staff, in particular herdsman Lisa – a more inspirational woman in agriculture you could not wish to meet. Diolch yn fawr i pawb.


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